Central Fund of Canada

The Central Fund of Canada is a commodity mutual fund established in 1961. The fund is headquartered in Calgary, Canada and managed by Central Group Alberta Limited. This body is the largest closed-end fund in Canada which trades in Canadian and US dollars. In 2008, the fund held more than 28 tonnes of gold and 1423 tonnes of silver. A small percent of the assets is held in cash.

The Calgary Branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is the custodian of the fund. The gold and silver bullion is stored in the underground vaults of the bank. It is inspected by the directors and officials of the fund twice a year. The inspections take place in the presence of external auditors and bank employees. The Board of Directors mandates that the Central Fund maintains a minimum of 90 percent of its net assets in the form of long-term passive holdings. At least 85 percent of the assets have to be in a physical form. Unlike the iShares Silver Trust and the SPDR Gold Trust, the Central Fund of Canada does not lease out its gold bullion. Consequently, investment in the fund can be considered relatively safe.

The shares of the fund are listed on the NYSE and the TSX under the symbol CEF. The Central Fund of Canada raises capital through public and non-public offerings. The shares are traded at a 12.2 percent premium to their net asset value. This premium is actually lower than the premium paid on physical bullion. As of April 2009, the fund has priced its public offering of 19.05 million class A shares at $10.5 per share. As a rule, these proceeds are invested in accordance with the investment policy of the Central Fund. The latter mandates the purchase of gold and silver bullion in a ration of fifty ounces of silver to one ounce of gold.

Long-term gains in other exchange-traded funds are taxed at 28 percent. Given that the fund’s shares are considered capital property, they qualify for the 15 percent capital gain tax treatment.

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